Today is TunesDay and for our song today I’m using the tune I had as my quote under my senior picture from high school. I’m going to use it as the jumping off point from which to finish yesterday’s thoughts about attending my 40th high school reunion. The song – a very brief one – is Simon and Garfunkel‘s Bookends:
Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you
Way back in 1973 this was music (from 1968!) that was a quiet reflection on old age and loss that was very much NOT on the minds of my generation at that time. It sure was the other night as we read off and remembered the names of our classmates who had passed since we graduated. It will probably take a lot longer to do so at the next reunion…
The song tells us to preserve our memories and as we discussed yesterday, technology has made that incredibly easy, as it has to do so in a collaborative way. The hundreds of photos snapped Saturday are already all over Facebook and I’ve exchanged messages with some folks with whom I really didn’t get to spend enough time. But there are some business points I thought about as well.
First, customers’ memories are being preserved. More importantly, they’re out there for everyone to see so you want them to be really good memories. Just as I was able to improve the quality of my exchanges with people I hadn’t seen but knew about from the web, customers coming to you will probably have expectations that are created in large part by the memories of others.
Second, the conversations at this reunion were different. Most of us were parents at the last one; now some of us are grandparents. While we used to talk about our new jobs and our aspirations, the conversations now turned to other topics: health and retirement being among the top ones. Your relationship with your customers changes over time as well, so the manner in which you interact as well as the nature of the conversation needs to morph.
I had a few other thoughts but I want to leave you with this one. Some of the people I saw over the weekend were close friends then. Some were people I barely knew and rarely spoke with outside of a classroom. A very few were even people I didn’t particularly like back then. Now, my close friends are closer and the other crap is long forgotten. The 100 people in the room Saturday night had way more in common than any of the millions of other folks we’ve encountered in our lives no matter what differences we may have had 40 years ago. I think many of us appreciated that. As we gathered for photos with our elementary school class, we hugged people we’d known literally for over 50 years. A time of innocence indeed, and we’d all transitioned out of it together. I didn’t know at the time I chose that quote how spot on it was to be. I sure do now.
Oh – are you waiting for the business point? OK – it’s this: business is transitory. You can change careers and companies over night. You can’t, however, change the people with whom you grew up. Your shared history is what makes you what you are. Preserve those memories – you have the tools and the collaborators. You’ll regret it if you don’t.